India: Stalinists and Maoists Lock Horns in Lalgarh

-Rajesh Tyagi/ 19 June, 2009

In the border region of Lalgarh in West Midnapore district in West Bengal, the CPI(Maoist) has triggered a sort of local uprising, killing the leaders and cadres of the Stalinist CPI(M), the party ruling in the state, and few others. With a section of Adivasis (tribals) following them, the Maoists have razed to the ground two local offices of CPI(M) and house of one of its local leader. The CPI(M), in agreement with the Central government led by the Congress, has deployed massive state armed police force, backed by the five companies of central paramilitary force, the Central Reserve Police Force, arming them with ‘shoot at sight’ orders, to suppress the tribal uprising.

The tribal uprising is organised by the Maoists under the banner of ‘Police Santras Birodhi Jansadharan Samiti’ (PSBPC) (Peoples’ Committee against Police Repression). The Samiti was organised and had laid seize to the area in retaliation to the police repression upon tribals in West Midnapore, after a landmine blast under the convoy of Chief Minister Budhadeb Bhattacharya, Ram Vilas Pasawn and Jitender Prasad, was triggered by Maoists, on November 2, 2008.

The misrule and the pro-capitalist policies, of the Stalinist ‘left front’ government in West Bengal, a coalition of four Parties-CPI, CPI(M), RSP and Forward Block, have earlier led to upsurge of peasantry, in Singur and Nandigram, where the government had tried to forcibly acquire the lands of peasants for local and foreign capitalists. The stiff resistance not only forced the government to retreat in disgrace, but resulted in historic decline in vote of the left front, giving undue advantage to congress and its allies.

Singur, Nandigram and now Lalgarh have exposed political bankruptcy of Stalinists, who know no means better to respond to the struggles of the poor, except the pure bureaucratic measures of white terror and outright police repression. The West Bengal government, had requisitioned more forces from the centre, which the Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram declined, under apprehension of political backlash in the aftermath of repression, saying that “It is primarily the responsibility of the state police to maintain the law and order. We have already sent sufficient forces to the state. It should not be the case that while central forces carry out the operation, the state police sits back idle”. In a press interview Sitaram Yechury, senior leader of CPI(M) is quoted to have said on 18 June 2009, “We have directed CRPF and the police to enter Lalgarh, with powers to tackle the situation with hard hand. As CRPF reaches Lalgarh, the situation would be under control”.

However, the forces, which rushed to Lalgarh did not find the task so easy. The resistance of armed tribals and suspicion of laying of landmines around the region, forced the armed forces to thwart away from Lalgarh.

The operation of the armed forces started from the Pirakata police outpost about 22 km from Lalgarh, triggering a violent protest from local people who formed a human barricade to prevent security forces from entering Lalgarh. Soon after the armed forces marched towards Lalgarh around 3.40 p.m. on 18 June, at least 3,000 PSBPC supporters, mostly women and children, blocked their way at Malida village. Apart from forming a human barricade, armed tribals blocked the Pirakata-Lalgarh Road by felling the trees. Police fired tear-gas shells and lathi-charged the agitators, wherein, several women and children got hurt. PSBPC members resisted, by throwing stones.

As PSBPC members retreated, CRPF launched a combing operation in the area in search of suspected Maoists. Around 5.10 p.m. when the security team had just left Malida village, some PSBPC members, taking shelter in a roadside house, allegedly fired at them and fled the spot. Around 7 p.m. at the end of the day, Police camps were set up in the area. Later, PSBPC leader Mr Chatradhar Mahato threatened that “tribals will resist the entry of the police in Lalgarh with their traditional weapons till our 23 point charter of demands are met.”

Meanwhile, the second in command of the CPI (Maoist), Koteshwar Rao alias Krishanji, said the state government and the Centre will be held responsible if there was bloodshed in Lalgarh. Maoists have called a 48-hour bandh in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar and Chattisgarh from Monday to protest against the police operation in Lalgarh.

CPI-M state secretary Mr Biman Bose said the Lalgarh situation was strictly an administrative issue and the administration was dealing with it. “Had it been a political question, we would have reacted accordingly,” he said. Earlier, the bodies of two CPI-M members were found in Patharpara forest in the Goaltore area. They were identified as those of Badol Ahir and Chaitan Soren. They were allegedly abducted by PSBPC activists three days ago

Taking advantage of marginalisation of the Stalinist ‘left front’, on the one hand the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and its leader Mamata Banerjee have started a concerted campaign to pull down the government by charging the atmosphere with unrest and violence, while on the other, the CPI(Maoist), an ally of TMC, has sought an opportunity in the situation to hold the ground against the Stalinists.

In any case, both the Maoists and Stalinists are creating a situation in West Bengal, conducive for more rabid right-wing forces to assert their power in the state, after decimating the forces of the left.

Though, the Maoists claim their allegiance to Maoism, the Chinese variant of Stalinism, and the political program of both of them stem from the same ground of ‘bourgeois democratic revolution’, yet Maoists, oriented towards the rural peasantry, basing their strategy solely upon the armed struggles by the peasantry , criticise the Stalinist parties for their participation in parliament and for this reason brand them as revisionists and opportunists. The basic program of both Stalinists and Maoists, however, remains the same. Both of them adhere to the Menshevik ‘two stage theory’ of revolution, i.e. ‘Capitalism today, Socialism tomorrow’. Both of them have common attitude towards the national bourgeois, assigning a progressive and revolutionary role to it, in the revolution, as ally of the proletariat. This professed ‘love’ for the national bourgeois, which finds expression in the political actions of both of them, in fact, makes out of them, a tutelage of the bourgeois class. In the false slogans of ‘new democracy’, ‘peoples democracy’, ‘democratic revolution’ etc. etc. it is the essential urge of the Stalinists and Maoists, towards capitalism, that finds its mystical expression. Both of them entertain the same aversion towards the working class. Stalinists betray the cause of working class, by joining hands with bourgeois on parliamentary rostrum and by holding back the working class in the traps of trade unions under their control. Maoists perform the same task, however, through their so-called ‘armed struggle’ firstly through by-passing the working class and taking to rural peasantry, and secondly by seeking partnerships with this or that section of the bourgeois. The TMC in West Bengal, is the recently found ally, with whom the Maoists are seeking a common platform to oppose the Stalinist ‘left front’ government. Above all, the unity of their programme lies in their common opposition to the program of ‘permanent revolution’ and proletarian internationalism, as propounded by Lenin and Trotsky, and upon which was built the edifice of victorious October revolution and Soviet Union.

After their decline in Latin Americas and exposure of their through and through bogus programme to be the programme of capitalism, India remains the last bastion, where Maoists seek support in politically backward sections of tribal peasantry. In what seems to be a desperate move for their survival, the Maoists are resorting to local sporadic uprisings, having no prospects of generating or assisting a real revolution. Having turned themselves, away from the real revolutionary class-the urban working class, and towards the rural peasantry, the Maoists now find a blind alley before them. The historic limitations of the peasantry, as an archaic and heterogeneous social class, make it incapable of having an independent or leading role, to consolidate the revolution on the national scale. Instead of politically educating and organising the working class and through it the peasantry, the Maoists, mobilise the politically backward rural peasantry to take to arms and rise in local revolts, with the only prospect of affording an opportunity to the capitalist governments to join hands to suppress and terrorise the people.

Maoists in Nepal have not abandoned the bogus program of ‘protracted peasant war’ in 1998, at their goodwill, but were forced to do so by the systemic failure of this strategy, reflected in stagnation and then decline of the revolution. Maoists, turned to the cities, but only to embrace the bourgeois and not the working class. Even after a turn to urban centres, the bogus politics of Maoists, forging alliance with bourgeois, instead of fighting with it for influence upon the urban petty bourgeois and the rural peasantry, remained the same, rather was continued with renewed vigour. This, firstly led to the failure of Maoists in taking the power in their hands, either at the peak of the mass surge in April 2006 or even after they got huge mandate in Constituent Assembly, and then to their complete decimation at the hands of their bourgeois ‘allies’.

Refusing to draw any lesson even from the recent debacles of Nepal, if not from devastating failures in China, Spain, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia etc, the Maoists continue with the same rabid policy of orienting to the peasantry and allying with the national bourgeois. Their slogan of ‘new democracy’, embraces, with the one hand, the Menshevik idea of surrender before the national bourgeois, while with the other, the SRs policy of turning their back upon the urban proletariat, and looking at the peasantry with false hopes of a revolution.

Neither violence can be substituted, for a passionate program of educating the working class and through it the peasantry, nor the local uprisings can consolidate and lead to a nationwide social revolution, in absence of the independent mobilisation of the working class.

We, do not underestimate the weight of peasantry and its struggles. There is no doubt that peasantry and its local uprisings have to play a considerable role in countries like India, with belated capitalist development, and they can give spark to the already charged city proletariat. But these uprisings would remain totally futile in absence of the political axis formed by the revolutionary proletariat, around its own party. The limited program of the Maoists is no match for the colossal democratic tasks, faced by the proletarian revolution. The revolutionary Marxists, as opposed to Stalinists and Maoists both, thus, primarily focus their concern upon organising the working class around a revolutionary program. The Maoists, oppose any idea of serious discourse for laying down the foundations of a revolutionary programme to mobilise the proletariat around it. They refuse even to address the chief political task of overcoming the chasm between the over-ripened objective conditions for revolution in our times, on the one hand, and on the other, the lacking revolutionary consciousness among the proletariat in general and its leadership in special. On the contrary, they substitute the ‘armed struggle’ as a panacea for everything.

However, notwithstanding the bogus program of Maoists, the protest of tribals, an outcome of anti-people policies of the 32 year old regime of Stalinists which relies on police measures to suppress all dissent from the people, is totally legitimate and any attempt to crush it through armed forces of the state must be opposed tooth and nail.

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